UQ International Student Enrolment Adviser Spotlight
We believe that great international student recruitment journeys are driven by great personal interactions. Our UniQuest Student Enrolment Advisers manage all the day-to-day communications with our university partners’ prospective students. They manage every enquiry from every communication channel and proactively follow up with students consistently across their journeys to enrolment to make sure they have the support and encouragement they need to ultimately arrive on campus.
Through this Student Enrolment Adviser spotlight interview with Carmel, learn a bit about the expertise and passion for international education that our Student Enrolment Advisers bring to every conversation they have with our partners’ prospective students.
Carmel is a UQ Student Enrolment Advisor dedicated to international student engagement. Before UniQuest, she worked in the international office of a university in north east England, with a focus on recruiting students from China.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role? I like following students along their entire journey. It’s really rewarding to see a student you met early on through an enquiry — and then supported through application and so on — become a full-fledged student at the University. All the hard work to support them in the right way across that journey really makes a valuable impact.
Q: What experience/skills have you brought to the role? I studied abroad my third year at university, so I know what it’s like to move to and study in a new country. That personal experience has helped me anticipate the questions that international students ask. It’s also helped me support parents through their concerns. I can empathise with them because they have the same worries my parents had when I decided to go abroad, and I can reassure them through this shared experience.
My language skills are very valuable too. I’ve always felt that when you speak to someone in your language it goes to their head; when you speak to someone in their language it goes to their heart. This is what inspired me to study languages. I’m currently fluent in Mandarin and Spanish and proficient in Turkish. Arabic is next on my list to learn.
Knowing these languages really proves useful when I’m on the phone with students who are nervous to use their English on the phone with a university professional. When students are nervous, it’s really easy for them to miss out on asking all the questions they have. In these situations, I find switching to their local language is important. I once was on the phone with a prospective student from Turkey and I could hear that she was feeling nervous, so I switched to speaking Turkish and it immediately put her at ease and by the end of the conversation we had developed a rapport that really influenced her feelings about the University.
Q: How do you prepare for each conversation with a student? In the UQ platform, we keep detailed records of previous conversations with a student. So, I always review the student record before I follow up to check what course they are interested in, what questions they had asked before, any positive or negative sentiments about the University they had shared earlier, and where they are in their journey – for example, have they applied, did they just receive an offer to study. This enables me to prepare for any questions they’re likely to have when I’m checking in with them.
I also make sure I have the contact information for specialists within the institution I support in case any detailed questions arise that I can’t answer. I have a really strong knowledge of my university, but inevitably the odd question comes up that I don’t have the answer for and it’s critical in those moments that I can transfer the student to the right specialist right away so they can get the answer they need.
Q: How do you maximise successfully reaching a student? A: It’s all about getting the student’s input on the best time and channel to reach them. In an initial conversation, I ask when the best time is to reach a student and check which channels they’d prefer I use in future. Students are always happily surprised to learn that we can chat through WhatsApp. Once students discover the University’s WhatsApp, it quickly becomes their favourite way the communicate.
Q: How did you become (and how do you stay) expert on the university you’re representing to make sure you’re delivering excellent support to students? I already had a great foundation of knowledge for the University because I’m an alumna! Although I had first-hand experience as a student there, I still worked closely with my colleagues in the international office at my university to learn about the full breadth of courses and services offered by the University. It’s an ongoing process as it’s key to keep up-to-date on all developments across the university. My university is a big research university in the UK, so I pay special attention to new research publications from faculty there. I share relevant research publications with prospective students to show we’re leading innovation in their field of interest. This really gets them excited about the idea of studying with my university.
Q: When you mentor new UQ team members, what is some key advice that you give? I always remind new team members that it’s important to be culturally aware. Certain phrases and imagery in emails can translate differently across regions. Likewise, current events in-country can have a big impact on engaging students. For instance, there was one week where I was having an unusually difficult time reaching prospective students in Thailand. I investigated and uncovered that a Thai monarch had passed away and the country was in mourning. It’s important to know these cultural nuances so you’re representing the University in the best way possible to students in every market.
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